20 Weeks Pregnant
What’s happening this week
- your baby measures about 16cm (CRL)
- weighs about 300 grams
- hair and nail growth continue
- following a regular schedule of sleeping turning, sucking and kicking and has settled upon a favourite position within the uterus (you may become aware of these wake-sleep cycles).
- your belly button may poke out as your uterus presses upwards
- the placenta reaches its largest size relative to the fetus, covering one-half of the uterine lining
- 400mls of fluid now present in the amniotic sac
- for some women fetal movements can still not be felt – they won’t be far away.
It’s worth finding out as much as you can about what to expect at the birth of your baby, and antenatal classes are an excellent way of doing this. They can:
- tell you what your choices are in various circumstances (for example, for pain relief)
- give you up-to-date advice, and tell you what’s available in your local area
- help you understand what’s happening so you can make informed decisions
- teach you special techniques for coping with labour, like relaxation and breathing
- make you feel more confident and less anxious
- give you a weekly chance to ask questions
- introduce you to new friends who are all around the same stage of pregnancy as you are!
Classes usually begin in the seventh or eighth month, but you may well need to book them around now. There are various kinds of classes, and most are designed for couples to attend together. However, if your birth partner isn’t going to be the baby’s father, and you want your mother, sister or a close friend there instead, they can come along to the classes with you. It will help them to support you better when the time comes.
- Your local maternity unit may run classes; ask your LMC for information. These classes are free and can give you a good idea of what’s available at the maternity unit to help you cope during labour.
- Parents Centre has branches in many areas of New Zealand; their childbirth educators cover all aspects of giving birth. You pay a small fee for these classes.
- Plunket also run classes in some areas, contact your local branch for details.
- Your LMC will know what is available in your area.
- Exercise and active birth classes may also be available – ask your midwife.
Classes specifically about breastfeeding are also available in your area. If you would like more information about these, discuss with your LMC.
If you don’t go to antenatal classes, though, it’s worth organising a visit to your local maternity unit if that’s where you want to have your baby. They can show you round and explain about what’s available – then the place won’t seem unfamiliar when you arrive in the middle of contractions! Have a read through our section on The Birth – this can give you a general idea about what lies ahead.
Pregnant and working
Many women worry they could lose their job because they’re pregnant. Remember, your employer cannot sack you just because you’re pregnant. That means you cannot be fired, demoted or treated in a worse way than you would normally be because of your pregnancy.
If you feel that you have been treated badly, you can contact:
- your Trade Union representative
- your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau
- your company’s Human Resources department
You may find that it’s hard to settle at night – your mind might be racing or your body feeling uncomfortable. Try these tips for sweet dreams:
- Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee and cola drinks) near bedtime.
- Wind down before you try to sleep – try a warm bath, reading, listening to some soothing music.
- Too much food before bed might give you indigestion and keep you awake, but a warm milky drink and some oatmeal biscuits can keep your blood sugar level up.
- Insomnia can’t hurt you or the baby – if you really can’t sleep, get up, perhaps have a warm drink, and read or watch TV until you feel drowsy again.
If you’re losing sleep because you have worries or problems, tossing and turning won’t help. Try to put them firmly out of your mind till morning.
Take care with household chemicals
Many women worry that the strong chemicals in household cleaning products could affect their baby, but there is no evidence to suggest that ordinary cleaners will. Avoid using products such as oven cleaners (their labels are full of warnings anyway) and don’t breathe in strong fumes if you can help it. Work in a well-ventilated area if the strong smell makes you feel sick.